A comparison of perceptions of selected groups toward an objectives generation matrix to determine physical education needs of secondary school students



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Purpose of the Study The basic purpose of this study was to assess and compare perceived needs of secondary school students in physical education as identified by selected groups. A three-dimensional model for evaluation was developed to elicit responses. Specifically, the study sought to: (1) Develop a three-dimensional model for the assessment of perceived needs, (2) Identify the perceptions of subpopulations of secondary school students (males, females, high-level performers, members of basic instructional programs, students from high socio-economic schools, students from low socio-economic schools), their parents or guardians, physical education teachers, athletic coaches, and nationally acknowledged physical education curriculum specialists, (3) Similarities and differences between the perceptions of the groups toward selected aspects of the physical education curriculum were determined. Procedures The instrument used in this study consisted of an array of objectives to which a respondent reacted to a scaled numbered one through seven, as to the perceived degree of relative importance of each objective. A preliminary instrument was developed and administered to high school students in two school districts. The final version of the instrument consisted of 47 statements of objectives, 14 of which represented psychomotor objectives, 28 of which represented affective and cognitive objectives, and five of which were either repeated or rephrased to assess consistency in responses. Objectives in the instrument were generated by a matrix consisting of three principal factors: Program Categories (general objectives of physical education), Behavior Dimensions (psychomotor, affective and cognitive dimensions of learning), and Populations (respondent groups). Program Categories include Organic Development (concerned with the ability to do physical work, to play vigorously, or to have reserve vitality to adapt to daily situations requiring strength, endurance and vitality), Neuromuscular Development (includes sports habits and skills), Interpretive Development (relates to sports understanding) and Impulsive Development (characterized as the instinct mechanisms as well as the development of the emotions). The data were subjected to a number of analyses. Principal components factor analysis followed by an orthogonal rotation to the varimax criterion was used to identify factor structure and to calculate factor scores for use in generating modified scores that were representative of respondents' perceptions toward each of the six Categories. Alpha factor analysis with a varimax rotation was used to assess coefficients of generalizability. Between group and within group differences were determined by means of the Analysis of Variance technique. Duncan's New Multiple Range Test and Kramer's extension of Duncan's New Multiple Range Test for groups with unequal number of replications were used to determine the group or groups and Category or Categories responsible for the rejection of the null hypothesis of equal means. Differences in perceptions of the subpopulations of students were determined by means of the independent t test. Findings Curriculum specialists in physical education were responsible for the significant difference (at the .001 level) between groups within Factor 1, Neuromuscular Development: Psychomotor. Their perception of the importance of this Category was significantly higher than each of the other groups'. Multiple comparison procedures for Factor 2, Impulsive Development, revealed that the athletic coaches perceived this Category as significantly less important than did the remaining groups. In Factor 3, Interpretive Development the rejection of the null hypothesis was a consequence of the low value attributed to this Category by the coaches. Significant differences also appeared when contrasting the students with the parents, as well as the teachers with the parents relative to Factor 3. In Factor 4, Organic Development: Affective/Cognitive, it is noted that the parents rated objectives in the Category higher than any other group. Discrepancies between the responses of both the curriculum experts and the athletic coaches were also significantly higher than the responses of the teachers, who ranked the Category the lowest. In Factor 5, Organic Development: Affective/Cognitive, the data revealed that inequalities of perceptions appeared when differentiating the responses of the parents, teachers and students with the athletic coaches. The athletic coaches placed little creedence on the value of this Category. Parents, teachers and students all identified this Category as being of greater need for secondary school students in physical education than did the curriculum specialists. The independent t test was utilized to identify different perceptions of the subpopulations of students. A number of significant differences were noted when contrasting the males and the females, the high level performers with the non-athletes, and the students from high socioeconomic schools with students from low socio-economic schools. Within group analysis for each group resulted in the rejection of the null hypothesis for the curriculum specialists, the parents, and the athletic coaches. Although non-significant differences were recorded when analyzing student responses, differences were noted when the subpopulations of students were investigated separately. The physical education teachers rated each Category similarly, thus resulting in a failure to reject the null hypothesis of equal cell means for the six Categories. Conclusions A number of factors should be considered when interpreting the data, determining the findings, and drawing the conclusions. It should be noted that the needs which were assessed were limited to those encompassed within the questionnaire employed in this study. No attempt was made to quantify open-ended responses obtained, and consequently, conclusions can only be made as they relate to and reflect the importance of the Categories and Behaviors included in the instrument. Providing educators with research data about what the various groups think the schools should be teaching should add to the factual dimension of the educational decision-making process. Conclusions based on what these groups think the schools should be teaching provides a comparatively well-defined statement of the expectations of these groups. These expectations either will reinforce educators' value judgments and philosophies, or they will demonstrate how these subjective judgments must be modified to bring them into focus with reference group opinion. It appears that the following conclusions are justified and consistent with the findings of the study: 1. The Objectives Generative Matrix provides a viable instrument to generate objectives to identify and compare perceptions of selected groups to determine physical education needs of secondary school students in physical education. 2. The questionnaire utilized enables the discrepancies between respondents perceptions to be delineated. 3. The respondents of the study, curriculum specialists in physical education, students, their parents, athletic coaches and physical education teachers, explicitly contraindicated agreement of the relative importance of the six Program Categories for secondary school students in physical education. 4. The various groups, when analyzed separately, identified differing areas of priorities for the secondary school students in physical education. 5. The findings appear to have a number of implications for program development and implementation. Since the various reference groups did not agree in their perceptions of physical education needs for secondary school students, it would appear beneficial to provide avenues of input for decision-making for each of these groups. 6. The varying perspective of the males and the females have implications for implementation of co-educational activities in school programs.